Struggling With Reconciling Paganism and Christianity

English: A cross close to the church in Grense...
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Lately I have been having some problems reconciling different religious traditions that I practice. I have been a practicing pagan of some stripe for over a decade, and I was not raised in a religious household in which we went to church regularly or anything, but in the past three years or so I have been going to church. I am even working on a graduate degree in Christian theology right now, which is an… interesting experience. Somehow I ended up really involved in the wider Church community.

I feel like my heart is in paganism, but church offers a lot that modern paganism just doesn’t. It’s about structure, tradition, community, and satisfying liturgy/ritual. I just feel secure in certain types of churches. For me, at least, paganism is isolating and alienating. It makes me feel different than the rest of society in a way that makes it difficult to relate to others. I’m in a big city, but pagan communities are pretty scarce, and the ones I have been able to find just like to bitch about Christianity and mainstream culture, and the negativity is just so draining. When it comes to ritual, I’m either lighting candles and incense by myself at home, or I’m in someone’s living room with the couches pushed back, holding hands with people I don’t know very well and dancing around in a circle feeling silly.

While I’m not completely on board theologically or in terms of Scripture, I love the drama of high church Christianity, with its processions, choral music, candles, sacred art, thuribles smoking with incense, and reverent gestures. There was a time when I was starting to reconcile myself to an Abrahamic monotheist theology and a greater appreciation of Scripture, but for whatever reason it didn’t stick. Maybe because I support feminism, queer rights, and sex-positivity. There are Christians who are into those kinds of causes too, but being pagan and having a worldview that accepts diversity when it comes to sex and gender, not to mention pretty much everything else, is a lot easier than trying to believe in a text that promotes patriarchy, violence, misogyny, xenophobia, homophobia, etc. It’s more complicated than just those issues, but they are the obvious ones.

Sometimes I think it would be a good idea just to devote myself more fully to the Church, and not bother with the pagan stuff anymore, which I have not been able to do fully. It would give me the structure I crave, which is easier to maintain as part of a community rather than just a solitary lighting candles in my room and honouring gods no one around me cares about, or they would think I’m crazy for worshiping. I would feel more in touch with society, and have a community of people who aren’t so angry and emotionally draining to be around, and not feel as disingenuous as I often feel now. I just don’t know if I can make it work, as my personal understanding of “God” is as a more feminine being, and eroticism plays a big part in my spirituality, and I don’t know if I can reconcile that with Christianity. There is something I genuinely love about the Roman Catholic and Anglo-Catholic faith, I just don’t know if I can stick to it exclusively, but if I don’t, I feel like I am not getting as much out of it as I could. I currently follow Anglican Catholicism, which is kind of a watered-down imitation of Roman Catholicism, since it’s more open to issues of gender and sexuality, but I wonder if I converted to the Roman Church I would take it more seriously and try to live according to its teachings. However, that doesn’t always seem like a good idea.

Thank you if you have read this all the way through. Let me know if you can sympathize or have any suggestions.

Struggling With Reconciling Paganism and Christianity